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What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? Paperback – May 15, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (May 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578564719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578564712
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In January, this column panned a Harry-bashing evangelical book called Harry Potter and the Bible, from Christian Publications. Now, PW is happy to point to a much more thoughtful Christian take on the young wizard phenom: Connie Neal's What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? In the storm of controversy, Neal navigates a via media by offering support to Christians who have decided to boycott the series, but also giving suggestions to parents who wish to read and discuss the books with their children. Spiritual discernment, Neal says, is the key for any Christian and an important quality to help children develop.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"...get ahold of Connie Neal's book. ... Christian discourse would dramatically improve if we followed her example". -- Michael G. Maudlin, Christianity Today International, Executive Editor of Christian Parenting Today magazine

"Harry is now part of the culture. Learn from it; and allow Connie Neal to help you and your children." -- Stephen Arterburn, founder and chairman of Women of Faith and New Life Clinics

More About the Author

Connie Neal is a trusted best-selling author who writes on family, marriage, parenting, communication, and pop culture. She has authored dozens of books which have been featured in Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Decision, Entertainment Weekly, Marriage Partnership, PBS, and media worldwide. She has a BA in Communication from Pepperdine University; MS in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University. She has edited & contributed to five major Bible projects and toured America as a speaker for Women of Faith. She is the premier Christian authority on Harry Potter. Her Instructional Design work helps others communicate more effectively using new media. Now she is transitioning content online (through Kindle Direct Publishing) and to online learning in keeping with research-based multimedia principles to enhance understanding.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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154 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Weaver on March 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm probably coming from a rather different place than most of the other reviewers. I'm not a Christian, and I picked up this book after I'd agreed to read a passage from the first Harry Potter novel at a reading of banned books. I wanted to know more about the reasons the books had been banned in the first place and a book written from a Christian perspective caught my eye.

What really impressed me about Neal's book is how respectful it is. It's so easy for both sides of this cultural divide to just dismiss each other--you're either a secular Satanist or you're a fundamentalist yahoo. I think it's this lack of respect that Neal is really trying to get at. She thinks the debate over the Harry Potter books is worth having but she wants it to be a reasonable, thoughtful, respectful debate. The book is really a warning against some of the unthinking traps that Christians fall into when they criticize the Potter series. But it's also a plea to take the cultural debate seriously. She admonishes Christians for not being more serious about the debate--for simply accepting what they've heard about the books without reading them or thinking about the issues in context. (For example, she says that, yes, there are mythical and magical creatures in the Potter stories but also points out that such creatures exist in stories by Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Dickens. The point is to figure out what these creatures are doing in the context of the novels, not merely to see that there are such creatures in the books and simply stop there.) But she also speaks to non-believers like me.
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238 of 249 people found the following review helpful By Bill Pen VINE VOICE on March 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you think any Christian who would be concerned about the Harry Potter books is a right-wing fundamentalist from the dark ages, don't read this book. If you are a serious Christian who wants to know whether your kids should be reading Harry Potter, or whether you should, THIS IS THE BOOK TO READ. Do NOT waste your time with "Pokemon & Harry Potter: A Fatal Attraction" or "Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick." Those authors are only a couple steps from the Inquisition, and they simply don't understand literature and how it works. Connie Neal, who works for Focus on the Family, explains why the Harry Potter books ARE good for Christian children. She explains the difference between the "wizardry" in these books and the witchcraft books found in the New Age section of your local bookstore. She shows how you can help your children find God in the Harry Potter books. I have a Ph.D. in literature and I teach the Bible on the college level and edit a theological journal, so I'm better qualified than most to say that the Harry Potter books are significant from both the literary and the spiritual viewpoints. They are at heart about the battle between good and evil, the same battle that swirls around us, and about the forces that are trying to lead us to choose the good and the competing forces trying to lead us into darkness. If you help your children find these themes in the books, the books can have a powerful influence for good.
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93 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Nathan G. Brown on August 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, the apparent answer commonly given to Neal's question is "Panic". The most widely reported and distributed Christian responses have been littered with hysterical, inaccurate and inconsistent reports of what the Harry Potter books are going to do to young children near you. In a pleasing contrast, Neal presents an informed and balanced account and analysis of the Harry Potter phenomenon. She begins her book by presenting a wide sample of Christian writing on the Harry Potter books. Neal suggests a view of the Christian church big enough to accommodate both people who enjoy reading the Harry Potter stories and those who do not see the books as suitable for Christian families. While Neal goes on to argue in favour of the books and to see opportunities in their popularity, she maintains respect for those who may choose to disagree with her views. Neal ably categorises the Harry Potter stories as fantasy, bringing with them many of the elements of classic children's stories. As such, she questions the legitimacy of imposing on parts of the story meanings inconsistent with their use in the story itself. However, Neal does recognise risks associated with the various motifs of magic and witchcraft employed in the Harry Potter stories and devotes two chapters to a Bible-based response to these issues. The books are definitely not "How to" manuals on magic - as another writer put it, the magic in Harry Potter is on a similar level to the technology in 'Star Trek' (Hertenstein) - but Neal is alert to the curiosity about such things the books may arouse. She suggests this may in fact provide an opportunity for parents to discuss with their children the dangers associated with magic and witchcraft.Read more ›
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Wgner on June 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Neal has written this book because she herself seemed to be unwittingly dragged into the debate. She and her family enjoy the books, tempered with a good bit of parental guidance. Nonetheless, she was surprised at the angst that her position seemed to stir up among fellow Christians. This book presents both sides of for/against Harry Potter issue fairly, and in some ways uncompromisingly agrees with both. In the first 60 pages she plainly outlines the popularity of the books, what both sides of the controversy are saying, what the books are about, and whether or not they are simply fantasy literature.
Neal is most helpful in relating the way that our first impressions of something, as illustrated by the Boring figure, a type of Rorschach ink blot, effects the way we view it. People who have been warned that the books are full of witchcraft and strange demonic impish creatures (Dobby) will undoubtedly find just that when they read it. On the other hand, people who have the viewpoint that Harry Potter is children's fantasy literature will find no witchcraft and think Dobby is nothing more than a very funny elf-creature of Rowling's imagination. Neal, quoting Lewis, says that to superimpose any outside meaning upon the intrinsic meaning given in the story is to distort the author's meaning. One can only call Dobby demonic if one looks up the word elf in an occultist dictionary and see that elves are spirit-creatures who are unclean, then connect these unclean spirits to demons, then connect these demons back to Dobby, which is rather unfair to the mischievous Yoda-looking house servant. This also makes even Santa Clause and Keebler crackers dangerous.
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